Articles

A Closer Look at the Ongoing flooding

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

A relentless onslaught of heavy rainfall, flooding, and landslides has plunged Kenya into a state of emergency. The Horn of Africa, grappling with the El Niño weather phenomenon, is witnessing a catastrophe that has claimed the lives of at least 46 individuals and left tens of thousands in distress. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, acknowledging the severity of the situation, revealed that over 80,000 households have been affected, with the numbers steadily climbing.

Gachagua, in a statement on 19th November, 2023, issued a plea for caution, urging the public to avoid flood-prone areas and advocating for the evacuation of homes in low-lying regions. The dire forecast suggests that the prolonged rainfall will persist well into the first quarter of the coming year.

The coastal region, including Kwale County, has borne the brunt of this natural disaster. Tragically, nine lives have been lost, two of them passengers swept away in a Kenya Revenue Authority vehicle on a flooded bridge. The Kenya Coast Guard Service is at the forefront of recovery efforts, attempting to retrieve bodies and provide solace to grieving families.

Beyond the loss of life, the floods are wreaking havoc on critical infrastructure. Kenya Railways, a key player in the nation’s transportation network, reported unexpected delays in cargo deliveries to Mombasa port and disruptions along the rail line to Nairobi. A landslide along one section between Mombasa and Nairobi has led to the closure of that stretch for all freight trains, further complicating an already challenging situation. However, limited passenger services remain operational.

Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city and a vital economic center, faces severe implications as its port and railway connections extend not only within the country but also to neighboring landlocked nations such as Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda.

International organizations are amplifying the urgency of the situation. Save the Children, a British charity, reported alarming figures: over 100 casualties, including 16 children, and more than 700,000 displaced across Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia due to flash flooding..

The climate crisis exacerbates the plight of those affected. Mwana Juma Hassan, a 37-year-old widow, expressed the dire circumstances at a camp for the displaced set up near an aid agency’s warehouse in Garissa town. “Eating here has become a luxury,” she said, highlighting the immediate challenges of displacement. For Hassan, this marks the fourth time in less than a decade that floods have upended her life. The latest downpour has washed away her watermelon farm, her sole source of income.

Amidst the struggle for survival, concerns are growing over the conditions in displacement camps. Sanitary conditions are poor, and the lack of clean water raises the risk of disease outbreaks. Humanitarian agencies and environmental campaigners are calling for increased financing to build the resilience of developing nations, emphasizing the expensive consequences of climate change.

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